A Day of Thanksgiving

Psalm 69:30 – “I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving.”
We celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States this year on Thursday, November 26, 2015, and it may be tempting to be less than thankful due to the wars and rumors of wars and the bleak outlook over happenings in Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East, and due to the many natural disasters happening world-wide. But is any of this a surprise? It shouldn’t be! Prophecy continues to unfold as foretold by the Hebrew prophets. The stage is being set.  All these things have been foretold and will come to pass.

Historical Patterns
Psalm 107:22 – “Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing.”
The first thanksgiving in the Americas was celebrated by Spanish explorers after their first harvest in the 16th century.  This celebration became common throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607, and the settlers of Jamestown held their first thanksgiving feast in 1610.  On December 4, 1619, 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred and, as required by their charter, observed a day of thanksgiving to God which was to be celebrated on the same day on a yearly basis.  In 1621, the holiday that is now referred to as the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims and Native Americans.  The feast lasted three days.  It included 50 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans, and the food was cooked by four of the surviving Pilgrim women.

George Washington again proclaimed a Thanksgiving in 1795. The first National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was printed by the Continental Congress in 1777 based on a draft by Samuel Adams.  President John Adams declared Thanksgivings in 1798 and 1799.  James Madison renewed the tradition in 1814 after the close of the War of 1812.  In 1816, Governor Plumer of New Hampshire appointed Thursday, November 14th to be the day of observance and Governor Brooks of Massachusetts appointed Thursday, November 28th.  By 1858 proclamations appointing a day of thanksgiving had been issued by the governors of twenty-five states and two territories.

In 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November that year and in each year following.  The actual day varied each year  depending upon whether there were only four Thursdays or five each November.  In December of 1941 Congress finalized the day requiring that Thanksgiving be observed annually on the fourth Thursday of November.

Giving Thanks
Psalm 69:30 – “I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving.”
Thanksgiving was founded as a religious observance for all the members of the community to give thanks to God for a common purpose.  Common to these purposes were thanks for civil and religious liberty, for useful knowledge, and for God’s kind care and providence.  Several presidents cited the Judeo-Christian tradition as a basis for giving thanks to God

The tradition of giving thanks continues today on the fourth Thursday of November.  Many attend worship services at their local church, and most include a meal as well.  At home, families say a prayer of thanksgiving listing all the things for which each member is grateful, and then a sumptuous meal ensues!

The Foods
Most United States homes celebrate Thanksgiving Day with a meal centered around a baked or roasted turkey with buckets of turkey gravy, although a baked or roasted ham is also popular.  When turkey is the main ingredient, stuffing is a must.  Other foods include mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, homemade breads, and cranberry sauce.  The meal is indubitably followed by a pumpkin pie with whipped cream topping.  Brownies, cookies, salads, chips and dips, casseroles, scalloped potatoes, peas and carrots, green beans, cheesecakes, and apple pies topped with vanilla ice cream are also favorites at this meal.

Psalm 50:14 – “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High.”
Thanking God for his blessings is universal.  Thanksgiving day melds both the custom of rejoicing after a successful harvest and a solemn religious observance combining prayer and feasting.  Giving thanks to Yahweh for a Christian is right and essential – he is the only source of the blessings that one enjoys year round.

Giving thanks to God is also consistent with many other faiths, even if their “gods” are naught but figments of the imagination. Islamic peoples celebrate by thanking “God” for his blessings, Sikhs celebrate by giving thanks to “Almighty”, and Native Americans celebrate by thanking the “Great Creator”.  Pray that these peoples will accept Yeshua as their Lord and Savior and give thanks to the true God of gods, Yahweh / Yeshua / Ruach Ha’Kodesh.